The interplay between theoretical and empirical considerations is central: research questions are informed by linguistic theory and there is a solid empirical underpinning to all work pursued in the department. The Department also has an interdisciplinary focus. It has well-established ties to the Department of Psychology, the School of Communication Sciences and Disorders, the Department of Philosophy, the School of Computer Science, and the Centre for Research on Brain, Language and Music (CRBLM). PhD students specializing in language acquisition may participate in the interdisciplinary Language Acquisition Program option.
The focus of research and teaching in the Department of Linguistics at McGill University is on theoretical and experimental linguistics, with special emphasis on the understanding of language diversity and how this diversity may be related to a universal underlying linguistic competence. This common interest is developed through the study of: (a) formal grammars (phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, pragmatics); (b) acquisition of grammars (as first or second languages); (c) processing of spoken language (with particular reference to prosody and speech perception); (d) variability in phonology and phonetics; (e) sociolinguistics and dialectology. The department places a strong emphasis on methodology, with specialists in experimental, computational, and fieldwork methodologies.